Sam Raimi might be working hard to promote his new film Oz: The Great and Powerful, but he got horror geeks buzzing on Friday when he revealed that he’s planning to spend his summer vacation working alongside brother Ivan Raimi on a story for Evil Dead 4. Naturally the Internet exploded into a bloody mess of excitement… but not so fast.
As any Evil Dead fan can tell you, Raimi and star Bruce Campbell have been teasing fans with the idea of an Evil Dead 4 for over a decade. Anytime either of these guys are interviewed, the fourth installment in the popular franchise is mentioned, and the answers are always the same: vague and cryptic and hinting that both would really like to do it. Journalists publish it, fans get excited, then… nothing happens. Evil Dead 4 is the Ghostbusters 3 of horror films – and frankly, I’m kind of tired of hearing about both of these projects.
There are a number of reasons why we feel like this latest movement on the project isn’t going anywhere, but perhaps the most interesting are Raimi’s own recent comments in the wake of Friday’s reveal. The filmmaker shared the following with Bleeding Cool:
“Those guys made me say that. I am thinking about it but a crowd goes 'Come on Sam, do it!' so I said 'Okay, I guess I was talking to my brother about it.' But I feel like I was pushed into saying that, a little bit. In the hallway today I joked with Ivan [his brother] ‘Get working on that script!’ but I really don’t know.
"I’m afraid that every time I talk about it people get really mad at me when I don’t follow through with it. I would like to work on the script over the summer, that much is true. But the reason to come back and do it again is only that they’re making me, those fans.”
That middle bit is perhaps the most telling – “I feel like was pushed into saying that, a little bit.” It’s hard to shake the feeling that this is the first step in the process of walking the whole thing back. And really, it makes sense – whether we like it or not, Raimi’s moved on from Evil Dead. Army of Darkness is 20 years old now and Raimi has gone from a beloved genre filmmaker to a bonafide A-list director in the intervening two decades. What is there to gain from returning to Evil Dead now that he’s made films like Spider-Man and Oz? Evil Dead 4 is a trap for the director; a film that’s bound to disappoint at least some part of his hard-core fanbase no matter how good it is. It’s all risk, with very little chance of reward, and Raimi’s smart enough to realize this. The fans might want Evil Dead 4 today, but after imagining it for over a decade, there’s no way anything Raimi, his brother and Bruce Campbell cook up will ever live up to what we’ve imagined.
That’s one huge hurdle right there. Another potential one will involve Raimi’s schedule moving forward. If Oz is a hit (and Disney is certainly banking on that…), Raimi’s going to be in the discussion for a follow-up film or on the short list for other big Disney projects (like, oh, I dunno – maybe one of those little Star Wars films they’re working on or perhaps a return to the Marvel universe). Where’s he gonna find time to make Evil Dead 4 if that happens? Does anyone really believe Raimi’s going to turn down potentially huge assignments in order to return to something he was done with over two decades ago even if it does make the fans ecstatic? We can’t really see that happening, even if he says he has no definitive plans for his next project.
Of course, all of that really depends on whether or not Oz is successful – and that’s not a slam dunk. There’s another elephant in the room, though, one that could certainly influence whether an Evil Dead 4 happens or not: Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead reboot.
That project will remove Campbell’s Ash character completely, but keep the cabin in the woods and the Necronomicon for a new generation of fans. Releasing that film, then coming back with an Evil Dead 4 could create a lot of confusion amongst the general populace. If Alvarez’s Evil Dead bombs, then it’s not an issue, but if it does well enough to garner a sequel, it’s hard to imagine Raimi wanting to confuse and cannibalize the new Evil Dead audience for Evil Dead 4. We’re not saying it can’t happen, but we see more potential pitfalls than positives here.
Taking that all a step further, if the reboot is a big hit, Raimi could take that as a sign that fans are happy with this passing of the torch and that there’s really no need to return to Ash and the original story at all.
As someone who’s been an Evil Dead fan from the time I first saw the original film way back in the 1980s, I’m all in favor of Ash returning to the screen. I love the character, I love Sam Raimi and I love Bruce Campbell, but there are a whole lot of reasons to temper your enthusiasm when it comes to Evil Dead 4 and Raimi’s latest proclamation. Yes, this is the most promising Evil Dead 4 news ever as far as Raimi actually talking about working on it with a definite timeline is concerned, but there are a lot of reasons this project doesn’t make sense. We hope we’re wrong and Raimi spends the summer writing a great script and he and Bruce Campbell shoot the movie and get it into theaters, but until we actually see footage from the shoot, we’re keeping our guard up.
What do you think, my fellow horror geeks? Is this finally the point where Raimi gives the fans what they want or is this another in a long line of false starts for Evil Dead 4? Let us know what you think.